Research suggests that 80% of readers hear a ‘voice’ when reading a story, with only 11% denying that they heard an inner voice at all.
This made me wonder about how much to tailor the conversations in my novels, giving them a sprinkling of dialect, while avoiding spelling words phonetically. My crime novels are set in Cornwall, which has its own language, rich Celtic culture and a distinctive accent. Here’s a good example of it:
As mentioned in the video, there are emmetsa-plenty in Cornwall. These are incomers from out of county, mainly holidaymakers who swarm around like ants, giving the locals much of their income from tourism. Many stay and settle. Some of my fictional characters are Cornish born and bred, while others have moved here. This has caused me a certain amount of head-scratching in how to differentiate their accents and attitudes.
Over the years, there’s been some fuss made about how the Cornish accent is spoken in television dramas. An adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Innwas panned because the cast mumbled their words making them hard to understand. The hugely successful new adaptation of Winston Graham’s Poldark stories has gone the other way, with most of the actors avoiding anything that sounds like a West Country burr. Only the farm labourers, the ignorant unwashed oiks attempt an ‘ooh arr, yes sur‘ country bumpkin way of speaking.